Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
President Donald Trump decided Friday to continue funding the US military's editorially-independent newspaper Stars and Stripes, backtracking on his own administration's plans to end a paper that has been providing troops, veterans, military families, and civilians with news for decades.
“The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch,” Trump tweeted Friday afternoon.
The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch. It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2020
Instead of spending roughly $15.5 million, a fraction of the Pentagon's more than $700 billion budget, to sustain the paper that first originated during the Civil War and has been published regularly since World War II, the Department of Defense moved to strip the historic newspaper of its funding in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request.
“We trimmed the support for Stars and Stripes because we need to invest that money, as we did with many, many other programs, into higher-priority issues,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in February after the Pentagon announced plans to cut funding for the paper.
Initial plans were to suspend publication at the end of the month, with the dissolution of the operation to be complete a few months later, according to a letter from lawmakers, but a Pentagon memo reported Friday in a USA Today op-ed accelerated the timetable, dissolving the paper in mid-September.
Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of 15 senators called on Esper to reconsider, arguing that “Stars and Stripes is an essential part of our nation's freedom of the press that serves the very population charged with defending that freedom.”
In a letter, they said that there was a “real possibility” that Congress would move to fund Stars and Stripes, even if the initial budget request did not.
Trump's decision Friday is not the first time he has undermined his administration's own defense budget.
Last May, several months after the defense budget request was put forward, Trump decided to overturn the Navy's plan to scrap the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, a plan that was already receiving significant pushback in Congress.
Trump's latest decision to save Stars and Stripes comes as he is under fire following reports that he made disparaging comments about U.S. service members, specifically those who died in battle, were captured and held as prisoners of war, or suffered serious injuries in combat.
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